French press review 3 October 2012
The French debate on the European Fiscal Pact and tonight's televised debate between the front-runners in the American presidential race are the two stories dominating this morning's front pages here in Paris.
We're all fairly fed up with Europe, budgets and treaties, perhaps noone more so than French President François Hollande.
He wants this debate over and done with since it is damaging the unity of his Socialist majority, ravaging the broader left and obliging President Frank to stand up and defend, tooth and nail, a treaty that was really written by his right-wing predecessor, Nasty Nick Sarkozy.
The right-wing opposition is, of course, delighted at the embarrassment caused, even if the net result will be to see a key right-wing project safely turned into law with a considerable number of left-wing votes.
Libération, a left-leaning paper, has its own concerns, seeing yesterday's solemn defence of the treaty proposition by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault as a contradiction. Not the obvoius one of a Socialist pleading a conservative cause but the broader question of Europe, austerity and whether it's a good idea for governments to further squeeze their already pip-like and squeaking populations.
In Germany, Spain and Italy, says the Libé editorial, there's been a real debate, with serious examination of the options, even quite radical ones. France has, by contrast, reacted with uncomfortable silence on such major questions as:
- What sort of federalism are we working towards?
- What does shared responsibility mean in a Europe already sinking under the weight of Greek incapacity to take individual responsibility?
- And where is democracy going as the voice of the nation state gets drowned out by the noise of the continent-wide institutions?
As for the American presidential face-off, with Obama and Romney due to clash tonight in a television debate, Le Monde looks at how the two front-runners have been playing the Chinese card. Romney has been accusing Beijing of cheating by artificially maintaining a low exchange rate and he has promised commercial war against the dragon economy if he's elected.
Obama, who needs to win in Ohio if he's to keep his momentum, has asked the World Trade Organisation to investigate the Chinese motor industry, specifically the spare parts sector. Washington thinks that Beijing is unfairly supporting local parts manufacturers to the disadvantage of US competitors who are concentrated, you guessed it, in Ohio.
According to Le Monde, all this paper-rattling won't much worry the chaps who run China. They need America at least as much as the United States need them.
China is, after all, the single largest holder of US treasury bonds. And China is a huge and rapidly growing market for American goods.
Relations between the globe's two biggest economies will continue to be a mix of complicity and hostility, whoever gets to be the next tenant of number 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington.